Planner Profile: Audem Gonzales

NAME: Audem Gonzales

TITLE: Senior Planner



Tells us a little about yourself professionally.
I’m a development review Planner at the Town of Erie. I received my Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado at Denver in 2012. I’ve been a Planner for around 7 years with previous positions in Estes Park, Colorado and Laramie, Wyoming. My work in Erie mainly consists of reviewing residential subdivisions and downtown commercial projects. Throughout the years I’ve dealt with a wide range of Planning issues such as preserving wildlife corridors, re-development within historic downtowns, and incentivizing attainable housing. I’m quite fortunate to have worked in a variety of communities, each with their own unique challenges and opportunities.

Tell us how and why you got into planning.
My path towards becoming a Planner was the culmination of many things. As a child I spent a great deal of my time exploring on the family ranch in northern New Mexico. I would spend all day walking through the pine forests and along the river. Knowing where you were at all times and being able to recognize natural landmarks was important! Because of this I learned to become a spatial thinker at a very young age. It was also common for me to spend hours reading maps as a kid. I was fascinated with how the land was sculpted and how cities were laid out. Physical Planning requires an understanding of multiple systems and the relationship between them all. This is something I’ve always been aware of and interested in.

Tell us a little about yourself outside of planning.
I’d have to say that I’m an artist before anything else. I love to draw, paint, photograph, etc. What I can’t buy in a store I’ll happily make for myself.

Who is your planning hero or role model?
I don’t have a hero/role model but I do admire Daniel Burnham. Not for his Planning efforts, but because in the 1880s his architecture firm, Burnham and Root, designed a luxury hotel in my home town in New Mexico. Before I even knew what Planning was I knew of Daniel Burnham!

What makes planning special/interesting/difficult/fun in Colorado?
Colorado has a lot of wealth that gives rise to opportunity which is what Planning is all about. The things we plan for in Colorado are likely to develop and that’s exciting. I’ve seen so many projects of mine hit the completion stage and that’s very satisfying. The things we work on are not pie in the sky ideas and we need to realize that everything is possible.

What’s one place in Colorado you would recommend everyone visit or experience at least once?
The history behind Colorado mining towns, Victor and Cripple Creek specifically, is pretty incredible. Visiting these towns today only gives a glimpse of what they once were. I’d recommend taking a stroll through the main streets to explore the various buildings. The mining industry was the driver of growth in Colorado at one time so there is a lot we can learn from these boomtowns.



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